Located in La Rioja province in the north of Spain, the small but stately town of Logroño, whose history goes back to the time of the Romans, is a palimpsest of Mediaeval, Renaissance and Modern architecture, making it an ideal location for an architecture and design festival such as Concéntrico. Organized by the La Rioja Cultural Foundation of Architects and Javier Peña Ibáñez, creator of the initiative, in collaboration with the city’s authorities, the festival, now in its fourth edition, took over the city for a few days in late April through a series of urban installations, exhibitions, discussions and activities.
Created by 14 design and architecture teams from Spain and abroad, the ephemeral urban interventions were scattered across the city, some taking centre stage among the picturesque buildings of the historic centre, others nestled in hidden squares and terraces, and one even venturing into the surrounding countryside. The installations aimed to initiate a dialogue between the city, its heritage, and contemporary architecture, but at a more practical level they also encouraged visitors to explore the city beyond the attractions mentioned in the tourist guides and discover places that would otherwise have gone unnoticed, while inviting its residents to experience their hometown through a fresh lens. For those who could not attend, the photographic lens of Jakub Skokan and Martin Tůma of Czech photography studio BoysPlayNiceevocatively documented Logroño’s urban transformation.
At first glance, the chosen locations seem to encompass a diverse selection of urban spaces—a central crossroads, a secluded square, a sleepy courtyard, an opening between buildings—but what connects them is their shared invisibility: people walk through, across and by them but rarely notice them. They are dormant, transient places with no clear function suddenly awakened by the installations they hosted.
Take for example “Amanita Muscaria”, Madrid-based architects Miriam Alonso, Patricia Ramos and Paula Mena’s winning design of Concéntrico 04’s pavilion competition that reinvented the sombre Plaza de Escuelas Trevijano through an architecture language of colourful geometrical shapes. Functioning as the starting point for visitors’ journey through the city, the intervention’s playful sensibility alluded to the charming tradition of picking mushrooms in the forest, fostering an ambience of exuberant anticipation.
More simple but just as engaging was “La Plaza” at the tranquil Plaza de San Bartolomé, the introspective installation from Argentine architects Lucas Seré Paltzer and Sebastián Andrés Podestá who removed all of the square’s benches, installing in their place a lithe, canal-like reflective pool that called for contemplation and reflection. Stretching between two concrete blocks that visitors could rest on, the sliver of water created constantly shifting reflections of the surrounding buildings establishing a dynamic relationship between the wandering visitors and the urban fabric.